Two-time world champions Argentina battled from a goal down to clinch a 3-2 friendly win over hosts Russia here on Wednesday as the two countries met for the first time in the post-Soviet era.
Atletico Madrid marksman Sergio Aguero, Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez and Napoli midfielder Jesus Datolo were all on target for the guests after Zenit St Petersburg halfback Igor Semshov put Russia into the lead.
Tottenham forward Roman Pavlyuchenko rounded off the scoring with a late consolation.
Argentina manager Diego Maradona said he was happy with the result but added that he was worried with his defence performance.
“Russia is now among the strongest teams in the world but we looked very good against them. We scored three times and won. It’s a good result,” Maradona said.
“But I’m worried with our playing in defence as we allowed Russia to score two goals. We need to analyse our defensive playing to strengthen this line and avoid even more serious troubles in the future.”
The hosts, supported by a capacity 28,800 home crowd, started brightly but striker Alexander Kerzhakov’s unopposed shot from just inside the box after a breakaway 30 seconds into the match flew wide.
The visitors, weakened by the absence of several star players, including Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez, replied with a 10-metre shot by Aguero also on a breakaway, but he was denied by Russian ‘keeper Igor Akinfeyev.
In the 17th minute Russia netted the opener, when Konztantim Zyryanov fed Semshov with a razor-sharp pass to the edge of the box.
Semshov dribbled into the danger zone and fired the ball home with a sharp-angled shot through Argentina ‘keeper Mariano Andujar’s hands.
Argentina replied with a set of threats through Aguero, who missed several chances before he levelled with a 22-metre screamer past the outstretched hands of Akinfeyev just before the break.
Lopez, who substituted Diego Milito in the interval, put the Argentines 2-1 up just 30 seconds after the restart, firing in from close range between Akinfeyev’s legs after a short cross by Emiliano Papa.
Another of Maradona’s super subs, Datolo, then clinched it with Argentina’s third goal barely 30 seconds after he entered the fray at the Lokomotiv stadium in the 58th minute, blasting home a powerful shot from the edge of the box.
Pavlyuchenko reduced the arrears, firing home through the defensive Argentine wall with a well-struck 20-metre freeekick after a foul on Semshov with 12 minutes to go but the effort was not enough to save the day for Russia.
“A defeat at the hands of a strong team may be much nore useful than a series of wins over minnows,” Russian manager Guus Hiddink said.
“We played well from the start and scored a good goal but lost concentration before the break and right after the restart and Argentina, an experienced team, punished us for it. We could have saved the day but missed too many chances.”
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